The Coral: Butterfly House

Categories: Review Roundup
Butterfly House.jpeg
​It seems like ages ago when English quintet The Coral released their eponymous debut album. Heralded by many, 2002's The Coral would later be nominated for a Mercury Prize and be named NME's fourth best album of the year. The Coral will always be near and dear to me as my one chance to see the band live was ruined by blizzard in Denver in the late spring of 2003, effectively stranding the band and forcing Electric Six to fill in their spot opening for Brit-poppers Supergrass.

That's right -- I went from the excitement of knowing I was going to see The Coral perform live to settling for Dick Valentine and his merry band of dipshits.

All unfairness aside, Butterfly House, the sixth album from guitar rock revivalists The Coral, finds the band matured from their raw, early stages as a band. The band's kitschy, mystical faun strumming on the lyre aural aesthetic has matured into a polished, sincere gesture. Butterfly House is the first album without founding member Bill Ryder-Jones, yet the band is as strong as ever, burrowing through twelve cohesive, yet heavy-handed, tracks.

What the critics are saying:

Pitchfork: That the results are as modest as Butterfly House is a disappointment, though all the skillful pieces remain in place. Skelly is a subtly soulful singer, and even minus Ryder-Jones, the guitars continue effortlessly to shimmer and glide, resplendent of all the best mildly psych 1960s folk-rock tropes, from frilly little filigrees to freak-out muscle. If the rhythm section remains only serviceable, that's defensible, as their pronounced presence would be out of place in the era from which the band draws: Despite a passing resemblance, their music has none of the past-to-present dance/rock fusion of the Stone Roses.

The Telegraph: Liverpool's the Coral are often too maverick for their own good, their more topsy-turvy, trippy ideas obscuring their fundamental appeal as a neo-classical Sixties guitar pop band. Their sixth album in ten years finally sees them trim off those excesses. It was produced by the British psychedelic veteran, John Leckie (Pink Floyd, the Stone Roses), who sharpened their songwriting focus, and polished up their sound into an exquisitely harmonised, Byrds-referencing treat.

The Guardian: Butterfly House seems to stick to the same menu of grownup, classic folk-rock: earnest opening track More Than a Lover rakes over a severed relationship; Sandhills and Two Faces have sweet harmonies but sound as derivative as the High Llamas. For all the catchy choruses, you miss the extremes: nothing here is as outlandish as Simon Diamond or as cheerfully accessible as In the Morning.

Drowned in Sound: Most of the rest of the album is in fact lovely stuff, further suggesting that bands from the Mersey Delta have unearthed some lost trove of Sixties classics and are slowing passing them down through the ages. It'd also be daft to suggest that The Coral should still be shouting about Skeleton Keys or writing convoluted spaghetti westerns. However, when they settle into this slower pace, The Coral lose their own voice and start to simply remind you of others, which can be frustrating when you remember their own identity was once so strong.

Butterfly House is out now via Deltasonic Records.


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